Erastus Taylor (1832-1909)

US Army, 1864-1865

Erastus Taylor was born in Elba, Genesee County, New York on December 24, 1832. On November 27, 1856 he married Elizabeth Malvina Howe, also of Elba. In 1858 they moved to western Wisconsin where Erastus farmed and taught school. Their first son, Manly Howe, was born February 25, 1859. January 16, 1862 another son, Winfield Scott, was born.

On February 16, 1864 at the age of thirty-one, Erastus enlisted as a private in Company H, 6th Regiment of the Minnesota Volunteers. Erastus served on frontier duty (which consisted mostly of campaigns against hostile Indians in Minnesota) at Fort Ridgly, Minnesota. In June 1864, his Regiment moved to Helena, Arkansas until November at which time the Regiment moved to St. Louis. In July Erastus was hospitalized in Helena with small pox, and in September was sent to Jefferson Barracks where he remained until May, 1865. He was mustered out on August 19, 1865.

In 1867 Erastus came to Linn County, Missouri by train, landing in Bucklin. He walked 6 miles across the prairie to see his old friend from New York, Josiah Phillips. Erastus, like Josiah, bought an 80 acre tract from the Burlington Railroad, bordering what would later become the city limits of Marceline. After a house was built Elizabeth and the 2 boys moved as well, and on March 16, 1870 a third son, William Erastus, was born.

Erastus farmed, and as the community of pioneers grew he helped establish Locust Ridge School at which he taught. He also donated land for and helped to establish Elmwood Cemetery, and opened his home regularly to the Methodist circuit rider. The first Methodist Sunday School of the community was held at his house. Erastus was a member and officer of the Marceline Post No. 387, Department of Missouri, Grand Army of the Republic. He died January 20, 1909 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

In 1906 Elias Disney moved his family from Chicago to the 45 acre farm across the road from Erastus Taylor. Befriended by “grandpa” Erastus, young Walt Disney was entertained by his many stories of the Civil War. Walt Disney would later recall “I don’t think he was ever in a battle in the Civil War, but he was in all of them.” Several months after Erastus died in 1909 his house burned. It went up in a tremendous blaze and made a distinct impression on young Walt. The Disney family moved on to Kansas City in 1911.

Erastus’ eldest son Manly Howe married his neighbor Bertha Phillips. Four of their five children spent their lives in Marceline – Jean P Taylor, Don B Taylor, Winifred Taylor McAllister and MH “Slick” Taylor, Jr.

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